The turbulent tide was pulling her farther and farther from shore. Would she survive?
- Posted on Jul 2, 2012
Uncle Peter and I headed down the wooden walkway toward the ocean with our beach towels in hand.
“Too bad no one else wanted to join us!” he said. We’d left the rest of the family back at the picnic tables, but there was no way I was going to miss the chance for a swim.
My feet sank into the warm sand. I wiggled my toes. I was feeling good. Energized. Healthy. Able to take care of myself. That was certainly a change, because for so long every day had been a struggle.
As a teenager, I’d developed a variety of illnesses. My ailments worsened and multiplied as I entered adulthood: with my thyroid and immune system, migraines, chronic fatigue and vitamin deficiencies.
As my body weakened and my pain intensified, I relied more on God. He got me through the hardest days.
Now I was feeling better than I had in years. More than ready for a swim! I spread my towel out on the beach and looked out to sea. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. In the distance, seagulls perched on the jagged rocks of a break wall that protected an old fishing pier.
Like a scene from a postcard, I thought.
“Looks like we have the beach to ourselves,” Uncle Peter said. “And on this beautiful day!”
I ran down to the shoreline. The ankle-deep water was choppy, and it sent sand and broken seashells crashing against my feet. It was rougher than I had expected.
But the salty ocean breeze felt good against my face, and it would be nice to cool off. I wasn’t going to let a few waves spoil my day at the beach.
“Let’s wade out past the white caps,” I said. “The water’s always calmer once you put a little distance between yourself and the shore.”
We fought through the waves until the water was up to our waistlines. Instead of getting calmer, the sea got even rougher. Some of the waves were taller than I was, and the undertow made it hard to stand still.
I tried to paddle back to shore, but I couldn’t fight the waves. I looked back at Uncle Peter.
A wave crashed over me. Knocked me down. My body tossed and turned beneath the surface of the water. Salty seawater filled my mouth. The sea swirled around me. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breathe. My chest tightened as I ran out of air.
I was helpless again. Only this time I was struggling underwater instead of being sick in bed.
Finally my head broke through the surface. I saw my uncle in the distance, closer to shore. I tried to make my way toward him, but my muscles were weak compared to the might of the ocean. I couldn’t even catch enough breath to call for help.
A wave crashed over my head. The undertow pulled me farther out to sea. Every time my head popped up, a wave came to beat me down. Each one pushed me closer to the break wall that protected the pier—and closer to the jagged rocks.
All those years God had helped me fight—was it just to let me drown here? Dear God, please help me! I still need you! I may not be sick anymore, but I’m not strong enough for this! I struggled to swim, but the power of the ocean was too strong. Another wave. I went under.
Then, instead of the dull rush of the undertow around my ears, I heard the wind and the waves of the beach. I opened my eyes. I was no longer near the rocks. In fact, I was much closer to shore than I had been just a moment before. Practically on the sand. How did I get here?
I touched my feet to the ocean floor. Gasping for breath, I dragged myself to the beach. I collapsed next to Uncle Peter on the dry sand. We lay there for a few minutes, struggling to catch our breath.
Finally I could speak. “I don’t know how I got out of that,” I said. “One second I was being pulled toward the rocks by the pier. The next I was near the shore.”
“All I know is, you were being pulled farther from me,” he said. “Then, you were on the beach. Are you all right?”
“Yes, I think so.” But how?
Uncle Peter and I made our way back to the others. We tried to tell them what had happened. “It’s a mystery how I escaped the water and rocks,” I said. As the words left my lips, an image came to my mind.
I saw myself back in the ocean. I was not alone. Two bright white figures stood on either side of me. The waves roared, but they were not affected by the fury of the water. Each figure took an elbow, and together they guided me toward the beach.
Two angels pulled you to safety, I thought.
How had I not seen it before? It was God all along. He had seen me struggling, and sent angels to move me away from the dangerous water.
Tears sprung to my eyes as I realized the enormity of what he had done. I had relied on him for strength and guidance when I was ill, and he was still there for me. Every minute of every day. He always would be. Sick or strong, I could rely on God to help me ride out the waves.